As an international paranormal researcher, Martin Leal would like to dissociate his work from the “Blair Witch Project” forever. “It’s not real,” he says of the 1999 horror film. What he finds in San Antonio with his company, Alamo City Paranormal, is real.
Armed with historical tales as well as technology, like electromagnetic field detectors, thermal cameras, non-contact thermometers, Leal conducts ghost tours 350 nights a year. “I used to pay other people to do the tour, but I love it too much,” he admits.
Without his grandfather introducing him to ghost hunting, Leal may never have discovered his love of the paranormal. What began as a childhood hobby grew into a passion; that passion took him out of a career in commercial real estate to start Alamo City Paranormal in 1997. Based on a scientific approach, tour-goers won’t see any smoke or mirrors on their rounds of the Alamo and haunted hotels.
“The goal of the tours is to educate people about paranormal activity,” Leal says, but his guests might still be shocked when they capture a full body apparition on the thermal camera at the end of the tour. Leal vividly remembers speaking with a woman and her daughter and suddenly hearing a man yelling, “I see it! I see it! I see it!” The woman laughed; it was her husband who ridiculed the idea of ghost hunting for weeks before their tour.
Skeptics abound in his profession, but Leal enjoys winning them over. One such occasion left a college student in tears after seeing proof of the energy Leal identifies as the “human aura.”
“Ghosts are leftover energy, stuck on earth for one reason or another. There are normal actions and habits,” Leal explains.“Just like we can observe and make assumptions about how animals migrate, we can observe ghosts’ behaviors.”